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Lessons from the Wahini Maori

Healing our Whenua and Soul

By: Dr. Lorna Dyall & Raewyn Bhana

Wahine Maori have been taking andincreasing leadership rolesin stepping up to nurture andcare for Papatunuku (mother earth), protection of our whenua(land) and protection and safeguard of people (tangata). The development and education of people arefundamental to restoring balance in families, whanau, andcommunities. When people are well they are able to take on more roles and responsibilities, mentor others, be kind, caring compassionate and loving. Raewyn Bhana and Ihave just recentlyreturned from Hawaii to upskill and learn from others involved in restorative justice or also called peacemaking.  

We went to Honolulu and was given the opportunity to learn from Lorenn Walker JD MPH Executive Director of Hawai’I Friends of Restorative Justice of her take on modern restorative justice and how she applies this when working with youth, assisting the reintegration of people recently released from prison into the communities and also working individuals who want to take greater control and direction of their lives. 

We also had the opportunity to learn from Malina Kaulukukui a kumuskilled and knowledgeable of the Hawaii traditional healing practice of Ho’oponopono of helping families and communities to undo knots that have created harm, suffering, ill-feeling, disconnection andabuse. 

The skills that we as women need to achieve to assist in the healing and restoration of mother earth, are skills that our ancestors learnedbut they were disruption in the process of colonizationand globalizationand for them to be misplaced. They now need to be learnedby the newgenerations, so they can be used at any level of dispute between individuals and groups competing or contesting for the ownership or stewardship of Mother Nature’s resources or whenua.

The leadership of Maori women at Ihaumato has been visible in attempting to protect this sacred place, the birthing of the Tainui waka and the first garden to be establishedin Aotearoa to be set aside for the futuregeneration and this space not to be used for residential housing. 

This resistance mirrors similar activities indigenous peoples and enlightened groups across the globe are taking, such as Mauna Kea Hawaii’s highest mountain, to protect not only the mountain and whenua,but all the creatures, the mauri (life force), fauna, flora, andcreatures dependent upon these ecosystems. 

We need female leadership and knowledge to steer the future of our planet so that there is hope for the future and people are able to work together against forces that are established to divide and rule.


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